It is not uncommon to read something like this and think, “Could it really be that easy?” Obviously many people have done just that. In some ways it seems to make sense. Life seems to go better when you have a positive attitude doesn't it? And isn't this kind of like what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:8 when he wrote, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things”? That’s thinking positively, isn't it?
For two years social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer studied a group of students who were about to graduate from college. They discovered that those who had the most positive attitudes put in fewer job applications, received fewer job offers and earned lower salaries than others. They were also less likely to ask a person they were romantically interested in to go on a date and were more likely to struggle academically. Similar results were found by Heather Barry Kappes, a management professor at the London School of Economics. She discovered that such positive thinking may actually dull the will to succeed. A provocative study suggests that public displays of positive thinking in news media may actually predict an economic downturn! One critic said the only people generating wealth and happiness from The Secret are the author and the publisher.
For a follower of Jesus the theory has some bigger issues than its ineffectiveness. The biggest is this: the universe is not governed by the Law of Attraction, it is governed by God. God is not working to make everyone healthy and rich. He is working to restore fallen, broken people and a fallen, broken creation. To do that he must bring holiness about, because holiness is the key to true health and wholeness, both for people and for creation. The alternative to holiness is evil, and evil, by definition, is always destructive for all of creation. So God is on a campaign to rid creation and his people of evil and to restore them to holiness, which is to say wholeness.
Is it wrong to think positively? Of course not. Paul did, indeed, tell us to think about things that are excellent, noble, good and worthy of praise. We have every reason to be positive and optimistic, for God always leads us in his triumph. We have reason to be joyful at all times because God works good for us in every circumstance. But that good is not necessarily lovely circumstances and wealth, it is that we would become like his Son.